Names of the Week: Sparrow and Melody

House sparrow, from

I was drawn into a conversation about bird poaching in the Mediterranean today by an elderly lady. To be honest, it’s something I’ve never devoted much thought to, and the lovely lady was full of information about it. But that’s a bit of a downer to start the post, but it’s once more put me onto the subject of bird names – and one name I’ve always wanted to talk about more: Sparrow.

Nicole Richies’s second child often appears on these Worst Celeb Baby Names lists, and to be honest even I wonder about the plausibility of a Harlow/Sparrow sibset. It seems too matchy, and one sure to corner you after another child or so. Where do you go from these two names – without repeating too many letters? Arrow and Farrow are not far removed from Sparrow, whilst Marlow and Harlow are pretty much the same sound when shouted at the top of one’s voice. Can Crow really work with Sparrow? There are a few other ow- names, each with varying popularity, pros and cons:

  • Meadow
  • Rainbow
  • Shadow
  • Snow
  • Willow
  • Winslow

I do like the idea of Sparrow, perhaps not in the same situation as Richie’s, although it is a new take on matching sibling names. I’ve been on the receving end of a LOT of sibsets this weekend given all the children I’ve been handing out presents to, and I must say, very few were clearly matched. There was a Maisie/Mollie twinset but that’s as matchy as it got really. A sign of changing times? Peut-être.

As a small child, I was given the book Dear Olly by Michael Morpurgo as a Christmas present, and the plot of the book revolved around swallows – I therefore credit Mr. Morpurgo as the primary source of my love of many-a-bird name. Of course, sparrows and swallows are completely different birds, but sparrows, like swallows are small birds. Also, in terms of sound, there’s not much difference between Sparrow and Swallow – bur I highly doubt Swallow will pass into usage as a name since it also coincides with another English verb: to swallow.

The Pirates of the Caribbean hoopla has subsided somewhat, but it did give us the character Captain Jack Sparrow. A character mostly well-received, and thus is likely to be the first person most will think of when they hear the name Sparrow. Him, and the aforementioned Madden/Richie child. Despite all this coverage, the name Sparrow does not rank in the England&Wales 2010 data.

However, speaking of pop culture, one can’t get a bigger institution in it than Doctor Who – which has been heavily promoting the name Melody of late. In the most recent series of the hit BBC show, Amelia ‘Amy’ Pond and husband Rory welcomed little Melody Pond – named after Amy’s childhood friend Mel. The timeline of little Melody is a little confuddling for non-viewers and occasional ones. Suffice to say, spoilers.

Like Sparrow, Melody is an English word come name. In terms of the word, a melody is a tune, voice or line, comprising of a succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single cake. Generally, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm – and that’s so far as this non-musician can go.

A few years back, Melanie was a relative popularity. Now we have both Amelia and Amelie in the Top 100 – both of which can and have been shortened to Mel. DC Mel Silver who was once a main character in Waking the Dead until her death was actually an Amelia. Surely, Melody is the logical progression in these Mel names? One would certainly think so. She’s a cute little nod to a love of music, whether you listen or play it.

I’ve also met a handful of Melody’s in France – which totally makes sense given the popularity of the similar-sounding name Élodié. It isn’t just an alternative spelling, though. Élodié is the French form of the name Alodia, which could possibly be of Germanic origins, thus come from the elements:

  • ala, meaning other, foreign
  • od, meaning riches

But that’s just a theory. It’s also worth noting at this point the popularity of both Eloise and Elsie in England&Wales – who are at #109 and #108 respectively for the 2010 data. As for Melody? Not far behind at #293, with Elodie right behind her at #297. Could Melody rise? I wouldn’t put it past her – and it will be especially interesting to see how she fares following all the Doctor Who promotion.

Categories: Names of the Week | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Names of the Week: Sparrow and Melody

  1. In THEORY I like Sparrow, and I’ve featured it myself, but in PRACTICE sparrows are an invasive species here which hurt our native birds. So I can only like it in other countries.

    I can see Melody getting more use – I see people thinking about using Melody, but in the end choosing something else. It seems to be one of those “on my list but I don’t really love it” names.


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